touch and go

touch and go

Touch-and-go’s are flying 101. Every pilot has done hundreds of them and continues to do them during his or her flying career. As I write a lot about “pattern work”, it might be time for a quick explanation of the idea:

A “touch-and-go” means take-off, one round in the traffic pattern and a landing. After the landing, the aircraft is not slowed down but accelerated again to take-off again immediately.

The idea is to practice landings – which takes the most practicing – as well as maneuvering the aircraft. Pattern work is a great warm-up and it is good to get to know a new aircraft.

The traffic pattern is a set route in the air around the runway. Every airport has one. At my home airport Strausberg (EDAY), the traffic pattern is south of the runway at 1.100 feet. The pattern consists of five segments or “legs”.

Upwind (1) is the first part after take-off before the first turn. In Strausberg it’s about 1 kilometer.

Crosswind (2) takes you away from the runway. During this leg I usually reach the pattern altitude.

Downwind (3) the longest part, parallel to the runway. This is where you can relax a bit. If you are approaching an airport, the middle of the downwind leg is where you enter the traffic pattern.

Base (4) is the busy part: Radio your position and get the plane ready for landing by reducing the speed and power and setting the flaps. In my plane it is relatively easy and I’m busy. In more sophisticated planes, Base must be a lot of work.

Final (5) this is where you make sure that you don’t drift away from the runway and that your descend is right.

If everything goes well, you perform a catlike landing right on the center line and take-off again.

To be continued…


(originally posted on April 1, 2011 by tilbo at

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